The school holidays are a time of freedom, fun and sleeping in. Well, that’s if you’re a kid, that is. If you’re a busy parent, you might be wringing your hands wondering how you’re going to keep the little ones busy and out of your hair till school starts again.
Sure, you could sign them up for a 4-day holiday camp, but that’s going to cost a few hundred bucks. You could take them to Universal Studios every day of the week, but you’ll probably have to take up a second job at the theme park in order to pay those ticket fees.
Don’t do that. Instead, here are four free ways to keep the kids entertained over the holidays.
Attend a free workshop at a public library
Even if your kids aren’t really in the habit of borrowing books from the library, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your neighbourhood NLB branch. National Library branches all over the island organise free workshops for kids (and adults) of all ages.
There are workshops covering all sorts of artistic and cultural activities, from making an envelope with washi tape to learning the basics of leather craft. Younger kids with benefit from the storytelling sessions and play sessions organised at certain branches. Check out the full list of programmes on the GoLibrary website.
Visit a museum
When the school holidays roll around, the first places parents tend to think of are Universal Studios and the zoo. But those attractions are extremely expensive to visit as a family—you’re looking at well over $100 for a family of four.
On the other hand, it costs nothing for a Singaporean family to visit a museum together. Don’t assume your kids won’t be interested till you’ve tried. Do note, however, that only museums under the National Heritage Board umbrella (eg. National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Peranakan Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum) are free—that excludes the ArtScience Museum, for example.
Check out the museums’ websites for kid-friendly suggestions. For instance, the Singapore Art Museum maintains a learning gallery complete with printable activity sheets targeted at kids from preschool to secondary school age.
The Singapore Philatelic Museum is also holding a special exhibition featuring Harry Potter stamps, which should be of interest to those parents whose kids are diehard fans of the books and films. The exhibition is free for Singaporeans and PRs.
Visit a public park
Parents of toddlers are becoming increasingly open to paying to let them frolic in indoor playgrounds. A free alternative is to hang out at a public park, where the kids can run around and get some actual sunshine, and the parents can lounge around on a picnic mat. West Coast blanket, with its giant spider web, is one of the most kid-friendly parks around.
If your kids have been spending the entire school term glued to their textbooks and smartphone screens, let them finally get some fresh air by cycling at East Coast Park, or running around the massive adventure playground at Pasir Ris Park.
But if you’re looking for something more organised, there’s a whole bunch of events taking place throughout the year, many free, from guided nature walks to movies at the Botanic Gardens. Check here for the full list.
Visit a public pool that looks like a theme park using your ActiveSG credits
In case you forgot, you’ve received $100 worth of ActiveSG credits. That means you can take your kids to a public pool without having to fork out a cent of your own.
But no, that isn’t an invitation for kiasu parents to force their kids to swim laps in hopes of becoming the next Joseph Schooling.
Parents who actually want their kids to have fun should head to those public pools with theme park-like facilities—giant water slides, whirlpools and fountains. Check out Jurong West, Jurong East, Pasir Ris, Sengkang and Choa Chu Kang, and you’ll wonder why you ever bothered paying to go to Wild Wild Wet.
What are your kids going to be doing during this year’s school holidays? Tell us in the comments!
Image Credits: Singapore Philatelic Museum